Thoughts on Michigan Ross: Introducing Yourself to your Ross Classmates

Ross has usually been a good “starter” school and this year is no different. The application asks for a fairly straightforward – if brief – goals essay in question two. And I advise my clients that question three can usually be answered with a typical leadership or failure essay, with the semantic adjustment of advising someone else based on what you learned from the experience.

However, I’ve been spending a lot more time advising my clients on question one.

Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.

Thankfully, there is no one proper way to answer this, but I do give my clients several guidelines and possible starting points. The first thing I tell them is to save this question for last. The next thing is to imagine that they are actually standing in front of all of their classmates. Their goal is to have as many of them as possible say, "I have to meet this person!" afterwards. That’s a big goal for only 100 words, but I’m sure you’ve seen people charm an entire room with not much more. Some people can do it in a tweet, and that's only 140 characters.

I also tell my clients that their classmates are going to be interested in different things than the adcom, so avoid straight repetition or summary of the other essays. Key guidelines: engage, impress, entertain, intrigue, inform, express, enjoy.

Many people will say they are team players. That’s OK, but if you include that idea, explain specifically what you can contribute to a team. A lot of people also mention strengths, but don’t forget the ways in which you are trying to better yourself; revealing your weaknesses creates empathy and understanding. Have an interesting hobby or something surprising about you? That might be a good place to start.

Don’t pretend to be something that you are not, but do show your very best self. After all, you are supposed to be addressing the people who will become your closest colleagues for the next two years, so make a good, strong impression.